A former priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse he committed 20 years ago in Montgomery County, Texas.
Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was sentenced to ten years in prison after admitting he acted indecently with teenagers who came to him for mentorship, Bluebonnet News reported.
As detailed in the allegations, La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused his victims, who were aged 13-16 years old at the time, by kissing them, exposing himself, and repeatedly touching them inappropriately when he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe, Texas.
The two-year-long investigation of the crimes committed by La Rosa-Lopez was conducted by the Conroe Police Department, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Rangers, Homeland Security, and other federal agencies. At the time of his arrest in 2018, La Rosa-Lopez was a priest at the St. John Fisher Church in Richmond, Texas.
At the beginning of the investigation in 2018, the police raided the Galveston-Houston archdiocesan offices with 50 uniformed police officers. At the time, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo, archbishop of the archdiocese, was president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Cardinal DiNardo was president of the U.S. bishops’ conference when the raid happened, and found himself the face of the US hierarchy’s response to the sexual abuse crisis. He was the prelate who had to announce the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops had instructed them to delay voting on a proposed code of episcopal conduct and the creation of an independent commission for investigating allegations of misconduct against bishops, at the US bishops’ 2018 Fall meeting.
The two victims who came forward after twenty years are among four who La Rosa-Lopez allegedly abused.
“Their bravery in coming forward after so many years is inspiring. It has been a distinct honor to seek justice for them,” said Prosecutors Nancy Hebert and Wesley LeRouax in a shared statement.